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PS_2023_EMR_ACFoPt (14) Haya Abushkhaidem

Press release

Occupied Palestinian Territory


During almost a week of temporary ceasefire, Action Against Hunger teams have been able to scale up their humanitarian response with interventions such as the construction of a sanitation unit in Al Aqsa hospital in Deir Al Balah, including toilets and washbasins, which we hope to complete in the coming days. However, the
renewed fighting puts our activities at risk, which is why we insist that a permanent ceasefire is necessary to meet the most basic needs of the Gazan population.

Despite the challenges caused by the continued insecurity, limited communications, and
fuel shortages, Action Against Hunger has been working throughout this war with local
suppliers inside Gaza to distribute basic supplies such as water, food, hygiene products,
nappies, blankets and mattresses as efficiently and quickly as possible, in coordination
with local and international actors. Our teams are delivering fresh vegetables and fruit to families thanks to the donations we’re receiving, and we are one of the few actors who have managed to help families in northern Gaza before the pause.


What could we do if a permanent ceasefire was achieved ?


If a permanent ceasefire could be achieved and the number of trucks transporting fuel
and goods needed for our interventions could be increased, we could :

  • Assess the damaged water networks and coordinate with our local partners to
    identify what is needed to repair the infrastructure, which is essential to improve
    sanitation and prevent epidemics and diarrhoea in the population.
  • Start repairing water networks wherever possible so that families have enough
    water for drinking, cooking, and hygiene.
  • Support IDPs, families living in extreme conditions, to be prepared for the coming
    winter by distributing mattresses, blankets, and plastic sheeting.
  • Increase our food aid to internally displaced persons.
  • Support affected farmers in restoring their land and agricultural assets, as well as
    access to water, so that they can quickly resume their work: growing crops,
    harvesting, and selling their produce.


How this ceasefire has affected food and water availability?


Although the lull in hostilities has allowed for a slight increase in humanitarian aid inflows, living conditions are far from improving, and the amount of aid coming across the border is wholly insufficient to meet the needs of the entire population of the south, let alone northern Gaza.

During these days, we continue to see increasing food shortages. Adults are limiting food intake to ensure that children can access meals. Canned food is no longer available in the local market and fears are growing that the vegetable harvest will soon be over. This highlights, once again, the importance of ensuring increased humanitarian and
commercial trucking into Gaza and the restoration of markets and supply chains, especially now that winter is fast approaching.

“Our colleagues are seeing and experiencing it on the ground: there is virtually no food left in Gaza. With more than 130 bakeries closed across Gaza due to lack of fuel, our colleagues tell us that even flour is in short supply in the local market, making it increasingly difficult to bake bread at home. Gas for cooking is now considered a luxury item, and families are resorting to cooking by burning wood, food cartons and whatever else they can find,” says Chiara Saccardi, Action Against Hunger’s Middle East regional officer.

“Drinking water is in very short supply, and other water sources are increasingly unsafe due to cross-contamination from sewage, rainwater and well water. Gazans need more food, more nutritious food, and clean water for cooking. They also need gas and fuel to cook food. To avoid the risk of food insecurity, malnutrition and starvation, these items must reach the most vulnerable immediately,” says Chiara Saccardi.

“In addition to hunger and lack of food, hygienic conditions, stress and overcrowding have an impact on diet, leading to malnutrition among the most vulnerable. Sustained food deprivation can lead to hunger, pain, anxiety, weight loss, electrolyte imbalances, apathy, fatigue, depletion of body fat and protein reserves, physical and psychological deterioration, tissue degradation, organ damage and death within days and even sudden death among children,” explains Action Against Hunger’s expert on Access to Health Services, Bruno Abarca.

Food stocks are depleting in Gaza and as a consequence, we see food prices rising. The
price of wheat flour has increased by 65% in October, while the price of mineral water
has doubled, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. In addition to lack
of access to food, lack of water, overcrowding, lack of sanitation are some of the critical
humanitarian issues we are seeing on the ground.

The situation in northern Gaza is also of particular concern due to the lack of a safe and
sustained NGO presence, the lack of capacity to distribute aid and the total collapse of
services. According to one of our colleagues in northern Gaza, “there continues to be great concern about hunger, dehydration and water-borne diseases due to consumption of water from unsafe sources. The water desalination plant and the Israeli pipeline are not functioning”


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